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Full text of "Golden lives : a memoir of Charles and Katherine Rochester Shepard"

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vJn the evening of October the seventh, 
eighteen hundred ninety-six, in the village 
of Dansville, New York, occurred an event 
still held in loving memory by some of those 
present, — the celebration of the Golden Wed- 
ding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Charles 
Shepard. The occasion not only recalled their 
sons and the one grandson from their distant 
home on the Pacific coast, but also brought 
together a number of relatives, as well as old 
and valued friends of many years' constant 

The guests bidden being limited to those 
whose presence was especially desired by 
reason of real friendship or old association, 
the spirit of the gathering was one of unusual 
enjoyment and unanimity of feeling. All sin- 
cerely participated in the happiness of their 
dear and honored hosts. The stately old Co- 
lonial house, suitably decorated by loving 
hands, the rich and beautiful gifts, the glad 
faces of rejoicing friends, — these were but 
the appropriate background for the gracious 
and kindly presence of those who had reached 
a milestone in life's journey granted to few 


favored ones. Though past the allotted three- 
score years and ten, both possessed a bright- 
ness and energy of mind and spirit and a 
breadth of interest in life not often found in 
those treading the westward slope. One dear 
friend afterwards spoke feelingly of the beau- 
tiful picture they presented. She had been 
particularly impressed, not so much as they 
stood together, surrounded by their children 
and giving cordial welcome to their guests, 
as when, at the close of the evening, they, with 
their family and closest friends, had repaired 
to the dining-room for refreshment. In arm- 
chairs at the head of the room were seated, 
side by side, the bride and groom of fifty years 
since. How handsome they looked, and how 
young and happy! The years had passed 
lightly over their heads, and upon their faces 
was the sure record of lives nobly and lovingly 
lived. The scene was the fitting climax of the 
many graceful hospitalities of that home. 


Integer vitae scelerisque purus 

Justum et tenacem propositi virum 



v^harles Shepard was of Puritan descent. 
On both sides, his ancestors were men of sub- 
stantial landed or business interests, promi- 
nent and influential in the communities with 
which they were identified. Ralph Shepard, 
the earliest American ancestor of the name, 
migrated from London to Massachusetts Bay 
in 1635, and "did his share in promoting the 
growth and prosperity of not a few of her 
towns." He passed his last years in Concord, 
Massachusetts, but was buried in Maiden, a 
former home, where a quaintly carved tomb- 
stone is still to be found recording his death 
in 1693, at the age of ninety years. 

Ralph Shepard's grandson, Samuel, was 
one of the founders of Plainfield, Connecticut, 
and there in 1780 was born Samuel's great- 
grandson Joshua, one of a family of twelve 
children. In connection with their father, 
Jesse Shepard, a remarkable story is related. 
It is said that when he went to the Revolu- 
tionary War his sheep were sheared and the 
wool spun into yarn and knitted into stock- 
ings for his use, all within the space of two 


In 1814, when Western New York was a 
wilderness, Joshua Shepard settled in the 
frontier hamlet of Dansville, residing there 
till his death in 1829. He speedily acquired 
considerable land and also established a pros- 
perous mercantile business, carrying on his 
large farm at the same time. In February, 
1817, he married Miss Elizabeth Hurlbut 
of Arkport. Mr. Shepard's business interests 
necessitated frequent journeys to New York 
and Albany in days when traveling was both 
slow and difficult, — by stage over rough 
or muddy roads, and down the Hudson in 
the wonderful new steamboats. 

An old book, published in 1844, entitled 
"Miniature of Dansville Village," gives an 
interesting estimate of Joshua Shepard's char- 
acter. The author says: "Mr. Shepard was 
a methodic, straightforward business man, 
who counseled his customers soundly regard- 
ing their purchases; they still speak of him 
with much respect and deference. Mr. Shep- 
ard, as a business man and as an honest 
merchant, had few equals. He deserved his 

Charles Shepard's maternal ancestors were 
of equally sturdy Puritan New England stock. 
Thomas Hurlbut came to this country about 
1635, and settled near Saybrook, Connecti- 


cut, in which neighborhood the family re- 
sided for almost a hundred and fifty years. 
For gallant and meritorious service in the 
Pequot War, he was commissioned a lieu- 
tenant and granted a tract of land in the 
town of Wethersfield, Connecticut. 

Early in January, 1776, Deacon John Hurl- 
but, then a member of the Connecticut Leg- 
islature, came home and told his wife that 
Congress had called for more men, and he 
did not know where they were to be had; 
to which this Spartan mother replied, "We 
have two sons, Christopher and John, old 
enough to go." The method of preparation 
for service was indeed heroic. Smallpox then 
being the great scourge and terror of camp- 
life and vaccination being yet unknown, the 
boys were at once inoculated with the dis- 
ease, that they might have it under the most 
favorable circumstances. Upon recovery, 
thus armed against disaster, they joined 
Washington's army and served honorably 
throughout the difficult and discouraging 
campaign around New York, Washington's 
masterly retreat across New Jersey, and the 
battles of Trenton and Princeton. In these 
battles the men were on arduous duty for 
from thirty-six to forty consecutive hours. 


In 1778 the elder John Hurlbut sold his 
place in Connecticut and bought several hun- 
dred acres of land in the fertile Wyoming 
Valley, Pennsylvania. The long train of 
wagons and cattle wound slowly westward 
until forced, by sickness in the camp, to halt. 
This delay saved the party from the famous 
Wyoming Massacre, which took place in July 
of that year. Not long afterward young 
Christopher Hurlbut settled in the neighbor- 
hood of Wilkes Barre, in which place he prac- 
ticed law for several years. He was appointed 
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas by Gov- 
ernor Mifflin of Pennsylvania. He also did a 
vast amount of surveying in all that region. 

During the year 1796 Judge Hurlbut ex- 
plored the country as far north as Lake On- 
tario. Much pleased with the promise of the 
Canisteo Valley, he there selected a site for 
his future home and for a saw-mill which he 
afterwards built. The reason for his choice 
of the spot was that, being at the head of navi- 
gation of the rivers tributary to the Susque- 
hanna, an easy means of sending lumber, 
grain, and other farm products to the Balti- 
more market was thus afforded. Therefore 
he named the place Arkport. The founding 
of the city of Rochester, a few years later, in 
great measure disappointed this expectation, 


by making the Genesee River the highway, 
and Rochester the nearest market for the en- 
tire district. 

In the spring of 1797 Judge Hurlbut 
moved his family to Arkport, among them 
being Elizabeth, the future mother of Charles 
Shepard, then a child six years of age. They 
were soon joined by a few companions who 
had faith in the judgment of their old friend 
and neighbor. Their experiences were those 
of most pioneer communities in that early 
day. Indians, bears, wolves, and panthers 
were not uncommon sights. Slowly the wilder- 
ness was subdued, and in time life lost many 
of its sterner features. 

Two characteristics marked the pioneers 
of Arkport as people of sterling worth, — 
their love of literature and their religious 
steadfastness. In the heart of the forest, far 
removed from stirring scenes and stimulating 
influences, these busy men and women fed 
their minds on the great English classics. 
Their few books were read and re-read, some 
of them being in great part committed to 
memory. Mrs. Elizabeth Shepard, whose 
treasures of memory throughout life were the 
wonder and admiration of her friends, used 
to tell her children how she and her sisters, 
while engaged in spinning, would store their 

[ 9 ] 

minds with the thoughts of the poets of a 
hundred years or more ago. Walking back 
and forth in pursuance of their task, with an 
occasional glance at the book, the words of 
Cowper, Scott, Pope, and many another were 
made absolutely their own. The same was 
true of the Bible. Long years afterward, dur- 
ing her last illness, Mrs. Shepard requested 
her youngest granddaughter to read to her 
from the Bible. "Where shall I read, grand- 
ma?" asked the child. "Anywhere," was 
the reply, "anywhere except the Psalms. I 
know all those." 

For over half a century the people of this 
community were too few to build a house of 
worship and maintain a pastor. During that 
period it was their weekly custom to attend 
service at the Presbyterian Church in the vil- 
lage of Almond, nine miles distant. As often 
as the Lord's Day came round was to be seen 
the procession of vehicles wending the long 
road to church. 'Mid summer's heat and 
winter's cold they went, over muddy roads 
or through deep drifts. For many years the 
building was unheated in winter, for this was 
before the days of stoves. Foot-stoves kept 
the women's and children's feet from freezing 
during the long sermon, and the men sat with 
heavy overcoats buttoned to the chin. These 


near descendants of English Puritans and 
Scotch Covenanters were not to be deterred 
by mere inconveniences of distance or weather 
from assembling to worship God. 

Such were Charles Shepard's forbears, — 
men and women of courage, of fortitude, of 
conspicuous integrity, and of sterling piety. 
The foundation of the high sense of honor 
and scrupulous fidelity to trust which so dis- 
tinguished their descendant was laid in the 
upright lives of these vigorous ancestors, — 
lives of quiet steadfastness to lofty ideals. 

v^harles Shepard, the eldest child and only 
son of Joshua and Elizabeth Hurlbut Shep- 
ard, was born in Dansville, New York, on 
the # 15th of March, 1818, and died in Seattle, 
Washington, on the 7th of September, 1899. 
Leading a quiet, unobtrusive life and not 
widely known beyond Western New York, he 
was yet an interesting and instructive char- 
acter. All his life Dansville was his home, 
except during a few years of boyhood, when 
his widowed mother moved to Canandaigua 
— then the nearest" seat of anything higher 
than a common school — to educate her chil- 
dren, and the last year of his life, which he 


with his wife and daughter spent in Seattle, 
where his sons reside. 

Returning to his native place at the close 
of the years devoted to his academic education, 
Mr. Shepard read law in the office of the late 
Judge Isaac L. Endress of Dansville, where 
he is said to have become remarkably pro- 
ficient as a legal draughtsman; but he never 
practiced law. The management of the fam- 
mily's and his own property, the duties of local 
agent for several of the older and leading 
fire insurance companies for many years, — 
extending to forty-five years for the iEtna 
and nearly as long for the Home Insurance 
Company of New York — and the discharge 
of public trusts or commissions of a non-polit- 
ical nature on a number of occasions, filled 
a large part of his active life. In his earlier 
manhood, although never holding important 
public office, he took an active part in politics, 
being a most ardent supporter of Henry Clay, 
and enjoying that great statesman's personal 
acquaintance. Among his reminiscences of 
those times was an account he used to give 
of hearing short speeches by Webster, Clay, 
and Calhoun in the United States Senate, all 
on the same day, — March 8, 1850, — the 
day after Webster's famous speech which so 
alienated his anti-slavery adherents. 

Mr. Shepard was one of the earliest, warm- 
est, and most energetic advocates of a railroad 
to Dansville, and was the president of the 
Erie & Genesee Valley Railroad Company 
from its organization and for many years. 
Its line from Dansville to Geneseo was built, 
not under contract, but by the company un- 
der his personal oversight, within the esti- 
mates, and at the remarkably low cost, even 
for a level line, of three thousand dollars a 
mile for the roadbed. When the movement 
for a seminary at Dansville took shape, he 
was the building committee and erected a 
substantial and worthy building at low cost. 
In these and minor instances, whenever he 
was called upon to aid or promote public in- 
terests, by purse or personal service, he illus- 
trated the idea that not only political office, 
but the time and means of the citizen constit- 
ute a public trust to be used in due measure 
for the public good. 

In 1846 Mr. Shepard married Miss Kath- 
erine Rochester Colman, a granddaughter of 
Colonel Nathaniel Rochester, the founder of 
the beautiful city of that name, who had also 
at an earlier date been a resident of Dansville 
contemporary with Joshua Shepard. » Colonel 
Rochester built the original mill on the site 
of Readshaw's old mill, and an ancient stone 

structure now standing opposite it on the east 
side of Main Street, Dansville, was a part of his 
house. It is probably the oldest building there; 
and Mr. Shepard's home, at the corner of Main 
and Perine streets, built by his father in 1823, 
is — except one or two — the oldest complete 
and inhabited house in the village. 

The keynote of Charles Shepard's charac- 
ter, both morally and mentally, was truth. 
By this is not meant simply the trait of verbal 
truthfulness — the virtue of not lying, valu- 
able though that is — but the subtler and 
deeper quality of innate fidelity to realities. 
He was the soul of honor, and would not coun- 
tenance the shadow of a subterfuge or of a 
divided interest whereout he or any one could 
draw a private benefit in any of the public 
enterprises or constructions he was concerned 
in. In the same way he was exact and just 
almost to a fault in dealing with employees 
and tradesmen. He abhorred shams and pre- 
tenses in all things and persons. That was 
what made him so excellent a builder, for he 
would not stand any of the hollow frauds, 
the fair deceitful shows that hide faulty and 
dangerous constructions of a certain kind of 
building*. And in this way his work as a 
builder was typical of himself. His acts, opin- 
ions, and words might be right or wrong, but 

they were the same inside as out — they 
showed for what they were, and they were 
what they showed. 

Without the Puritan's narrow religiosity, 
he had inherited his strict morality and some- 
what of his intolerance of other standards or 
no standards. He had nothing of the easy 
acquiescence, the more cosmopolitan temper 
which, while living by a correct enough rule 
itself, is not greatly concerned at the moral 
laxity of others. And one saw something of 
the stern old Roman in him too, when in 
vehement outbursts he would pour out his 
hot indignation on the frauds and wrongs from 
which individuals or the community or the 
nation suffered. His hatred of sham went so 
far as to make him suspicious or cynical to- 
ward acts or courses which, proper enough 
within due limits, might degenerate into self- 
seeking humbug. But this was only the defect 
of his quality; and something must be forgiven 
to one of a generation to which Carlyle had 
preached a holy war against the Devil of Cant 
and Sham. 

The mental equivalent of moral veracity 
is accuracy, and Charles Shepard had a most 
accurate mind. Nature had endowed him 
with a remarkable memory, — quick, tena- 
cious, ready. In a school contest he once 

learned in one day the Latin text of one 
entire book — about eight hundred lines — of 
Virgil by heart. His mother was almost as 
remarkable. It was very interesting to hear 
this bright old lady recite to her grandchildren 
long passages from the English "classics" — 
the classics which nobody now reads. She 
was brought up in a frontier forest, where 
Indian trails were the roads; but she fed on 
Pope, Dryden, Scott, Cowper, Milton, Shake- 
speare, the Spectator, the Bible — the best 
prose and the best poetry ever written in the 
English tongue. So her son came naturally 
by his memory. But such powers, however 
striking as proofs of the stretch of the human 
mind, are of little worth to the possessor or 
to others unless put to good use. A vast 
warehouse may be filled with rubbish as well 
as with costly silks. 

Mr. Shepard had, however, not only a ca- 
pacious but a well-stored mind. Like his 
mother, he had drunk of all the "wells of 
English undenled." He retained through his 
life a cultivated love of the ancient classics 
and the literature sprung from them. He was, 
too, very fond of the modern romantic litera- 
ture in fiction and poetry. 

A constant and omnivorous reader, except 
in the fields of science and art, he became 


literally a "walking encyclopaedia;" and so 
well assimilated had been his reading that he 
could turn at will to the page in his memory 
where any desired facts were inscribed. His 
knowledge of local history — dates, places, 
events, and persons — was so full and precise 
that he was the unappealable resort on mooted 
points. Never traveling abroad, he had yet 
roamed over the world in his library and was 
fond of books of travel. His mind being of 
the mathematical type, he had a very wide 
and exact acquaintance with geography, in 
names, distances, area, population, and even 
famous buildings of the Old World. Reading 
seemed to have depicted mental maps or pic- 
tures of such spots, so that he was often asked 
if he had not been in Europe. In the practical 
branches of knowledge pertaining to finance, 
transportation, and manufactures, and notably 
in their statistics, he was well versed; and 
his sound judgment, as correct in the mart as 
in the library, made his advice valuable and 
much sought after. 

An exactness in his own mental processes 
which became impatient with others' vague- 
ness and mistakes and merciless in probing 
the weak spots of an opponent's logic was 
saved from declining into pedantry by the salt 
of humor. Mr. Shepard had a ready wit, a 

keen sense of the comic side of life, and an 
enormous fund of "good stories" and of the 
humorous in literature, — especially of odd 
epitaphs and quaint tales picked up in the by- 
paths of reading; and being a good raconteur, 
his conversation was very entertaining. He 
was ever ready, without conceit or effort at 
display, to bring forth from his treasury things 
both "new and old," both "grave and gay," 
for recreation, counsel, or instruction, in social 
converse or deep debate. Such a man, while 
leaving nothing of permanent record, has not 
lived in vain, because his noble integrity, his 
broad and sound scholarship have improved 
and enlightened his community and left the 
world better than he found it. 

SEPTEMBER 14, 1899 

A telegram has been received here from 
Seattle, Washington, stating that Charles 
Shepard died there on the 7th of September. 
This was a sad surprise to his old neighbors 
in Dansville, who about two weeks before had 
been informed that, although he had received 
a paralytic stroke which had affected his lower 
limbs, he seemed to be otherwise nearly as 
well as usual. The shock was evidently greater 

[ 18 ] 

than had been supposed, and too great for the 
exhausted vitality of his old age to overcome. 
He had been slowly declining some time be- 
fore he left Dansville — June 1, 1898 — to go 
to Seattle and pass his last years with his sons. 
Mr. Shepard was a man of uncommon 
mental gifts and acquirements, and perhaps 
the most remarkable of these was his com- 
prehensive, tenacious, and accurate memory. 
They also included a sound practical judg- 
ment and a critical acumen regarding public 
affairs and questions of law and equity and 
general literature, which made him worth 
listening to whenever he talked about them. 
His opinions were but little affected by pre- 
cedents and authorities, unless there were 
good reasons back of them, and he was known 
by his neighbors as a man of independent as 
well as carefully considered opinions. He 
had a fine library, and few men were more 
familiar than he with the great English and 
American classics, from which his absorbing 
memory enabled him to quote aptly and ex- 
tensively when conversation led that way. He 
had appropriated a great deal of the best his- 
torical knowledge; and he was the best au- 
thority in town, — the man before all others 
to go to for local dates, names, and other 
facts relating to former residents and events, 


or for verification when there was doubt about 
any of them. To such rare intellectual quali- 
ties were joined unquestioned honesty in deal- 
ing with others and intense dislike of hypo- 
crisies and shams, which sometimes excited 
him to emphatic outbursts of indignation. 


Mr. Shepard possessed a private library 
as choice as any other in Seattle, and he 
was particularly well versed in the by-paths 
of literature, the rare, the curious, and the 
antiquarian. He was emphatically a widely 
read and well-informed man. To the few in 
this city, outside his immediate family, who 
enjoyed his intimate acquaintance, the ac- 
curacy and retentiveness of his memory were 
a marvel. His literary taste was so correct, 
and his familiarity with the best thought of 
every age and country was so complete, that 
talk with him upon almost any scholarly topic 
was a pleasure. Yet, to the last, his acquaint- 
ance with and interest in economic and po- 
litical topics were equally exact and acute. 

He leaves to his sorrowing family a rich 
legacy of remembrances of a bountifully 
stored mind, a disposition kindly, patient, and 

generous, and a character whose integrity 
shone undimmed in every act of his life, — a 
perfect type of that older school of American 
gentlemen now too fast passing away. 




Proverbs xxxi, 27 

Thy "Bible verse" I hold thy truest praise, 
'She looketh well unto her household ways, 
And eateth not the bread of idleness;" 
Albeit this is not all that justice pays, 
Thy due: for thou prolong'st thy precious 

With gentle, holy teachings, that aye bless 
Thy husband and thine offspring; and not 

Than love and purity are Wisdom's ways 
Thy soul's delight — that searches for the 

And reads it well within the leaves of life 
And in that higher Word : and in thy youth 
Piety gave thy soul its peace from strife 
That ever doth possess it. Yet I own 
Those rarer household virtues are thy crown. 

April 20, 1879. 



jVatherine Rochester Colman, daugh- 
ter of Dr. Anson Colman and Katherine Kim- 
ball Rochester, was born in Rochester, New 
York, December 27, 1823, a little Christmas 
child upon whose sweet nature seemed to 
have been poured the blessed influences of 
the season of Peace and Good-will. From 
New England Puritan and Virginia Church- 
man had been handed down all that was 
finest, noblest, and most lovable in the two 
widely differing strains of blood. 

James Colman, who, as a boy of eleven, 
came to this country in 1653, settled in Ips- 
wich, Massachusetts, the family's home for 
nearly a century. Then began (or rather 
continued) the series of westward migrations 
which — in at least one branch of the family 
— has extended even to the Pacific coast. 
The Colmans of the eighteenth century were 
essentially "pioneers. Time and again they left 
comfortable homes which they had built, and 
farms which they had improved by years of 
labor, to penetrate into the wilderness with a 
few like-minded neighbors, there not only 

carving out new and better fortunes for them- 
selves, but also doing their share toward lay- 
ing deep and broad in this new land the 
foundations of Anglo-Saxon liberty and Anglo- 
Saxon piety. One of these pioneer farmers, 
Job Colman, was a " minute-man' ' who 
sprang to arms at the first gun-shot of the 
Revolution. He also served for a short time 
later in the war. 

In the closing years of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, Samuel Colman, eldest son of the Revo- 
lutionary veteran, took his bride to a new 
home in Central New York, on Stuart's Patent, 
near Otsego Lake, where they happily and 
successfully reared a large family. The eldest, 
Anson, was an earnest student, and early re- 
solved to become a physician. He settled in 
the then thriving village of Rochester, New 
York, and on the 8th of September, 1819, 
married Katherine, daughter of Colonel Na- 
thaniel Rochester, founder of the place. 

Dr. Colman was a man of much dignity of 
character, combined with great lovableness 
of nature, a physician of marked ability and 
high reputation. Not satisfied with any but 
the most complete possible equipment for his 
work, some years after marriage he went to 
Paris for a year's professional study in the 
University of France. At another time he spent 

a summer in Montreal when a cholera epi- 
demic was raging in that city, that he might 
make a special study of the disease. He seems 
to have been a man of advanced thought. He 
certainly was a beloved physician, one whose 
skill and friendship were highly valued by 
hosts of patients. His useful and honorable 
life was cut short at the age of forty-two, — 
the result of too unselfish devotion to the wel- 
fare of a patient. 

The Rochester family is descended from 
Nicholas Rochester, an English gentleman 
who came to America in 1689, and purchased 
a plantation in Westmoreland County, Vir- 
ginia. Here Nathaniel Rochester was born, 
February 21, 1752. Growing to manhood in 
the stirring pre-Revolutionary days, he early 
identified himself with the patriot party. At 
the age of twenty-three he was made a mem- 
ber of the Committee of Safety of Orange 
County, North Carolina, where he then re- 
sided, and was also a delegate to the famous 
Mecklenburg Convention. The following 
year he was appointed "Deputy Commissary- 
General of military and other stores in this 
county for the use of the Continental Army." 
The arduous duties of the office were prose- 
cuted by him with such zeal and untiring 
assiduity that the fatigue and exposure in un- 
[ 25 ] 

healthy districts soon brought on disease which 
compelled him to resign, in accordance with 
medical advice. Returning to his home at 
Hillsboro', he found that during his absence 
he had been elected a member of the North 
Carolina Legislature, one of the earliest legis- 
lative bodies of the infant nation. 

At the close of the Revolution, Colonel 
Rochester went to Hagerstown, Maryland, 
where he successfully carried on varied and 
extensive manufacturing and mercantile en- 
terprises, and became the first president of 
the Hagerstown Bank. Throughout life he 
worthily filled many public offices of trust 
and honor. 

On April 20, 1788, Colonel Rochester was 
married to Sophia, daughter of Colonel Wil- 
liam Beatty of Frederick, Maryland. It was 
a typical Southern wedding, full of light- 
hearted rejoicing. Across the intervening cen- 
tury drifts the echo of wedding bells and 
laughter, while before the mind rises a pic- 
ture of the brightness, the gayety, the open- 
handed hospitality, the successive days of 
nuptial merry-making, the ease and grace and 
dignity which were the warp and woof of old- 
time Southern social life. Among the merry 
groups moves the groom, a man of dignified 
mien and grave and noble countenance, while 

by his side is the youthful bride, resplendent 
in her "second-day-dress" of pea-green silk 
with rose-colored silk bodice and train. 

During the same year was completed the 
celebrated Phelps and Gorham Purchase of the 
lands of the Seneca Indians in Western New 
York. This threw open to settlement the won- 
derful Genesee country, of which such glow- 
ing descriptions had been spread broadcast 
by the soldiers returning from Sullivan's raid. 
In the year 1800 Colonel Rochester, in com- 
pany with his friends, Colonel Fitzhugh and 
Major Carroll, visited the Genesee country, 
where they ultimately purchased the One 
Hundred Acre Tract at the Falls of the 
Genesee, the nucleus of the city of Rochester. 
They also bought extensive lands near the 
head of the valley, the garden spot of New 
York State. 

As time passed, Colonel Rochester felt that 
it would be to the interest of his large family 
of children to grow up in a free rather than in 
a slaveholding State. Though a slaveholder, 
as his fathers had been, he disapproved of the 
system of human bondage, and had never 
countenanced the breaking up of slave fami- 
lies. This was not merely theory with him, 
for a grandmother and her descendants con- 
stituted his holding of ten slaves. The time 

for agitation of the subject had not arrived, 
but he decided to take his slaves North with 
him and emancipate them in a free State. 
That much he could do. 

In the spring of 1810, having closed up his 
business connections in the South, Colonel 
Rochester, with his large household, started 
northward. "The departure of the Roches- 
ter cavalcade from Hagerstown, Maryland, 
was a memorable event. It moved slowly 
through the Main Street, the Colonel's old 
friends and neighbors lining the way, many 
weeping as if it were a funeral train. The 
Colonel and his eldest daughter and his five 
sons were on horseback, the youngest son, 
only four years old, upon his pet pony. Be- 
hind them were two family carriages, Mrs. 
Rochester being driven by a young man of 
good family who had asked the privilege. 
Following were three heavy wagons loaded 
with blacks and luggage, four horses to each 
wagon. It was a picturesque procession, re- 
calling, no doubt, to some of the spectators 
the going forth of Abram of old to build a city 
in a strange land, for the Genesee country 
was far away, and the route of the cavalcade 
lay through the wilderness and over the moun- 


Colonel Rochester first settled upon his 
lands at Dansville, near the head of the val- 
ley, not taking up his residence at Falls Town 
(as Rochester was first called) till 1818, when 
his property there began to require his con- 
stant personal supervision. At Dansville he 
built a saw-mill, a grist-mill, and a paper- 
mill. He also gave the village the land for a 
burying-ground and for a large public square, 
— the present "Central Park" of the place. 

It was in the year following the removal of 
the family to Rochester that Dr. Colman and 
Miss Katherine Rochester were married. 

JVitty Colman, as she was known to her 
intimates throughout life, was a winsome 
little maiden, merry and light-hearted, gentle, 
obedient, and affectionate. Under the wise 
and loving guidance of her parents, her nature 
symmetrically unfolded in strength and beauty. 
By the untimely death of both mother and 
father, she early learned the lessons of sorrow, 
being orphaned in her fourteenth year. Dr. 
Colman's will left her to the guardianship 
of her uncle, the Hon. Henry E. Rochester, 
in whose family she made her home until 


Many are the testimonies of Kitty Column's 
unusual beauty of person and lovableness of 
character as she grew into young womanhood. 
Cousins who last saw her more than sixty 
years ago still speak admiringly of her attrac- 
tiveness at this time. A petite and graceful 
figure, soft, shining locks of chestnut-brown, 
gray-blue eyes, merry yet tender, a surpass- 
ingly perfect complexion, and a mouth ex- 
pressive of the sweetness of disposition which 
ruled within, — this was the Kitty Colman 
who was one of the belles of Rochester society 
in the early forties. 

The social life of the little city at this time 
must have been most charming, — gay, distin- 
guished, courtly. The spirit of Revolution- 
ary and Colonial parents and grandparents 
was still a living force. The entertainments 
given in the stately mansions, set in the midst 
of ample grounds, were handsome yet unos- 
tentatious. The descendants of Colonel Roch- 
ester alone formed a large circle, the family 
gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas 
numbering nearly fifty persons. Fancy the 
merry times these young cousins must have 
had together! 

Between Katherine Colman and her elder 
sister Sophia, a girl of lovely, unselfish char- 
acter, there existed a very close bond of af- 
' [ 80 ] 

fection. The separation consequent upon the 
latter's marriage and removal to Ohio was 
a sore trial to Katherine, and her grief upon 
Sophia's death three years later was very 
great. A visit to this sister during the brief 
years of her married life, a delightful summer 
spent with her paternal grandparents in Ot- 
sego County, and a few visits "up the val- 
ley" seem to have been the most memorable 
excursions of Katherine's girlhood. 

Colonel Fitzhugh and Major Carroll had 
settled on broad acres in Livingston County, 
where their children and grandchildren now 
lived. Many were the occasions of delightful 
social intercourse between them and the de- 
scendants of Colonel Rochester, as also with 
some of the families of Dansville, — particu- 
larly the Endresses and Shepards. Thomas 
C. Montgomery and Charles Shepard were 
warm friends, and thus in time it most nat- 
urally came about that Mr. Shepard was pre- 
sented to Mr. Montgomery's cousin, Miss 
Colman. Mr. Shepard was at this time twenty- 
seven years of age, tall and slender, with dark 
hair and eyes and a countenance indicative 
of strength of character and rectitude of pur- 
pose. He soon felt the charm of Miss Col- 
man's personality, and before many months 
they became engaged to be married. The 

wedding took place in St. Luke's Church, 
Rochester, Wednesday, October 7, 1846. 

The wedding journey was an extended one 
for those days, when traveling must still be 
done largely by stage-coach. It included 
trips to New York, Philadelphia, and Wash- 
ington, and was prolonged to Hagerstown 
and Frederick, Maryland, the former homes 
of Mrs. Shepard's grandparents. Returning 
to the old homestead at Dansville, they en- 
tered upon the quiet, happy life side by side 
which continued for over half a century. 

Who shall chronicle the joys and sorrows, 
the achievements and disappointments and 
successes of fifty years! Mr. and Mrs. Shep- 
ard were greatly blessed; but for all, life's 
pathway is one of checkered light and shade. 
Of the five children born to them, only three 
lived to maturity. In the early years of their 
married life a little daughter was taken from 
them in infancy ; and again, when the shadows 
were beginning to lengthen, they were called 
upon to part with their beloved youngest son, 
Arthur Colman, who died at the age of eigh- 
teen, after long months of suffering. 

Throughout her married life, Mrs. Shepard 

was a most notable housekeeper. In her were 

united, in rarely happy combination, the 

painstaking thoroughness and conscientious 


attention to detail of the New England house- 
wife, with the hospitable disposition, the 
bountiful generosity, and the capability of 
wise direction and superintendence which 
characterize the highest type of Southern 
housekeeper. Fineness and daintiness were 
of the very essence of her being. There was 
not a fibre of the slipshod or temporizing in 
her nature. No trouble was too great to un- 
dergo for the sake of adding to the comfort 
or happiness of her dear ones. 

To all their children, Mr. and Mrs. Shep- 
ard gave most excellent educational advan- 
tages, no pains being spared to provide them 
with the mental riches of which no misfortune 
can rob the possessor. In the priceless heri- 
tage of unspeakably precious memories of a 
father's unswerving integrity and unfailing 
kindness and generosity and a mother's most 
tender and unselfish love and devotion, they 
bestowed a gift of even greater value. 

Swiftly the years passed, filled with glad- 
ness and sorrow, cares and trials and plea- 
sures, until at last to this couple, still young in 
heart, came the sad realization that they were 
growing old. Fifty years of happy wedded 
life were crowned by the joyous Golden 
Anniversary of October, 1896, and then the 
pathway rapidly verged toward the end. Two 

years later the old home had been broken 
up, and Mr. and Mrs. Shepard had gone to 
Seattle to spend the remainder of life with 
their sons, from whom they had been widely 
separated for many years. The time of com- 
panionship was short, — far too short it 
seemed to those who were left behind. To 
both the end came painlessly, peacefully, 
after weeks of exhausting illness. The noble 
calm of the dear father's countenance, the 
unutterable peace transfiguring the sweet 
mother's face, spoke eloquently of "the rest 
that remaineth to the people of God." 

As was appropriate, they were buried be- 
side their children in the cemetery at Dans- 
ville, overlooking scenes of which they had 
long been a part. 

OF MAY 21, 1902 

Mrs. Katherine Rochester Shepard, the 
widow of Charles Shepard, died early yester- 
day morning at her residence in this city, after 
a lingering illness which began with an ap- 
parently slight paralytic stroke in February 

A devoted wife and mother, a friend and 
neighbor whose every act was of kindness, 

one who, while wearing serenely the dignity 
of honorable lineage, was ruled by charity 
and sympathy the broadest, — all who came 
within the charm of Mrs. Shepard's sweet 
and placid spirit, no less than those to whom 
she was closest and dearest, know that she 
has fitly entered into the great peace. 

MAY 29, 1902. 

On Tuesday afternoon, May 27, the fu- 
neral services of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Shep- 
ard were held at the old homestead. At one 
o'clock old friends and neighbors gathered 
to pay their last tribute of respect and love, 
the gathering including many representative 
citizens of Dansville. 

As the long procession following the two 
hearses slowly passed through Main Street, all 
the business doors were seen to be closed, with 
curtains drawn down, a silent and impressive 
token of respect and honor for old and worthy 
citizens with whose lives the town had been 
so long identified, and who had done so much 
to enhance the material, social, and religious 
prosperity of this community, — an unex- 
pected demonstration that tenderly touched, 
and was gratefully appreciated by sons and 

daughter. In the family lot on an eminence 
in Greenmount Cemetery, surrounded by sin- 
cere mourners, the father and mother were 
gently lowered to their last resting place, 
and there they will "softly lie and sweetly 
sleep" in the ripeness of years, life's work 
well done. The home coming and the burial 
were the faithful fulfillment of a promise long 
ago made to the parents. 


" 315lesfte& are tfjei? t&at keep fu&g* 
mmt, anu Ije tijat Doetfi righteous* 
ties® at all time**" 

" Mesftea are tfce pure in Ijeart : 
tor tfcei? styall see &olu"